#WeddingsForRussia: The Sims 4 Wedding Stories controversy explained

Sims 4 players in Russia are left feeling even more excluded following the decision by Maxis to not release My Wedding Stories in the country.

While many who play The Sims 4 are looking forward to the release of The Sims 4: My Wedding Stories Game Pack, players in Russia won?t get to play the pack at all. The new DLC will not be available in Russia and, if you spotted the hashtag #WeddingsForRussia on Twitter recently, let’s try to break things down a bit.

In a statement posted on The Sims website, the team explained their reasoning behind the decision to withhold The Sims 4: My Wedding Stories from being released in Russia.

The intro trailer of The Sims 4: My Wedding stories featured a gay couple, Dominique and Camille, which the statement claims would be subject to changes because of federal laws if the pack were to be released in Russia.

According to The Sims, this decision is their way of ?upholding their commitment [to inclusion] by shining a light on and celebrating stories like Dom and Cam’s?.

For outsiders, this might seem like a way a strong response to homophobia, but many Sims players in Russia do not agree and feel that the decision is excluding them even further.

Russia federal law and The Sims 4: My Wedding Stories

So, what exactly is the law that’s impacting the release of The Sims 4 My Wedding Stories in Russia? With the wording of the statement, you might think that homosexuality is illegal, like it is in many other countries – some of which have banned The Sims video game.

But that’s not the case.

There has been  a constitutional ban on same-sex marriages in Russia since 2020, but sexual activity between same-sex couples has been legal, and remains legal, since 1993. 

That’s not the law that has influenced the decision to not release The Sims 4 My Wedding Stories Game Pack in Russia.

It is the so called ?gay propaganda? law that led to the decision. Passed back in 2013, it bans disseminating “propaganda on non-traditional sexual relations among Russians under the age of 18”.

As it stands, The Sims 4 already holds an 18+ restriction in Russia. Since the base game already allows for same-sex relationships and without any further clarification from the developers, there is some confusion around what makes My Wedding Stories different.

My Wedding Stories: What could happen if The Sims released the pack in Russia?

Again, when you read the wording of the statement, you might wonder whether there are severe consequences for breaching this law. But, again, that is not the case.

Anyone found in violation of the law can, at worst, be fined  1 million rubles and companies might have their  services temporarily suspended for up to 90 days.

Sure, internet content does make it a bit tricky to control the and predict where exactly  minors might be and whether there is a risk of them being ?exposed to propaganda?, but that’s where the whole labelled as restricted thing comes in.

The wording of the law itself has been challenged several times, too, and another one of EA’s titles, Fifa17, was previously accused of violating the law.

That is not quite where it ends, though. As one Russian Sims player pointed out on Twitter:

The trailer of the Dream home decorator has included the kid’s room with the trans pride flag – and no one cared.  The trailer of the Cats and dogs has included the gay wedding – and no one cared. Why it would be different for Wedding stories? Just. Put. The label. That’s all.

Sims players in Russia left guessing why they’re left out

Perhaps most confusing of all is that the official statement on the decision to not release the pack in Russia does not contain the reasoning as being because of ?federal law?, as pointed out by the same player mentioned above.

One of the official languages The Sims 4 is available in is Russian. It seems like a rather large oversight to not include such a pivotal bit of information in the language of the country being impacted by the decision.

Many who support the decision to not release My Wedding Stories in Russia might point to the Human Rights Watch report on the challenges and hostility faced by LGBT youth in Russia in the context of this law.

The report noted that the passage of the law “coincided with an uptick in often-gruesome vigilante violence against LGBT people in Russia?frequently carried out in the name of protecting Russian values and Russia’s children”.

It also mentions that it has been used to shut down websites that provide valuable information and services to teens across Russia and to bar LGBT support groups from working with youth.

It appears, however, few have bothered to ask Russia’s LGBTQ Simmers what they think.